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Remembering George Braden, ‘champion of the North’

George Braden, who led the Northwest Territories from 1980 to 1984, died at the age of 65 on Monday.

On this page, Bill Braden – one of George’s three brothers, and a former NWT politician himself – looks back with Moose FM at George’s life in the Northwest Territories.

Obituary: George Braden, former NWT leader, dead at 65

George was my mentor.

He set such a high standard of public service, and I tried to take that with me when I went into politics and served two terms in the legislative assembly. That, to me, is where the memory of my brother is going to be brightest.

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George was a student of political science, and had a chance to work with some of the greats in not only the North, but in Canada.

He, along with a core of real visionary people – real hard-working people, passionate people – struck the evolution of the Northwest Territories from those early days, when governance of the North was dictated by Ottawa.

Through their hard work, they established that the job of governing the North belongs to the elected people. George had the honour, the privilege, and – I think – the heavy burden of being the first elected member of the assembly to lead the government.

These were the champions of setting the North on a course of truly representative governance, and looking after our own affairs.

I wish George were here to say how he evaluates what the Northwest Territories has become.

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He knew that forging a new part of Canada was something that was going to take a long time, and I know he was proud to have had a role in it – not only in those early days, but in his most recent work as a policy advisor to Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson.

He was closely involved, on the federal government side, in what was going on in the North, and how the federal government could, and should, assist.

He had a role that extended over almost four decades, despite moving south with his wife to Ottawa. Even then, you know, I don’t think he missed the North at all. He was steeped in what was going on up here on a daily basis.

He might not have been here physically, but he sure was through the people, and his colleagues.

Bill Braden was talking to Moose FM’s Ollie Williams.

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